Friday, October 10, 2014

REVIEW/INTERVIEW: Captain Shelby by Jesse Giles Christiansen


There are places even the sea cannot go…

In coastal Denmark, a young man named Nereus builds a longship and leaves at age eighteen to discover a new, enigmatic land. Faced with unimaginable obstacles, he crosses the North Atlantic, only to be captured by the Skraelings, the Inuit indigenous people who seek revenge on all settlers because of a "Great Red Man" who murdered many of their family members.

A few years later, Nereus is hired by a group of Irish settlers who are fleeing the tyranny of King Henry VIII and he takes them across the North Atlantic to the Newfound Land. A fierce battle ensues against the sea, the Little Ice Age, and the vicious Skraelings.

When Nereus falls in love with Laura Hodges, fiancée to the group’s leader, William Brockelby, he becomes embroiled in a dangerous love triangle…until the formidable mystery surrounding Captain Nereus H. Shelby is finally revealed.



Some might fin the Olde English language of Captain Shelby intimidating, but really, 'all it taketh to acquire an understanding' is to flip that switch in your brain, let the words and the story wash over you until the light comes on.

Fortunately, the story is most engaging.  I'm always rooting for the underdog, and the Irish of that era (and several hundred years surrounding) certainly qualify as that.  I consider it only natural that the Irish would want to escape the maltreatment they received at the hand of the English and Irish agents of the English King, Henry VIII.

Almost as intriguing as Captain Shelby, Nereus, the old man of the sea, himself.  Of course, having been around for a ... good long time, one has the ability to acquire more than the usual set of talents.

The story goes back and forth through time, following some of Nereus' story, and at other times, some of the 'Freedom from English Tyranny League'.  There is communication with the elements.  There is young love.  There are headstrong teenagers.  There is a father's despair.  There is betrayal and cruelty.  There is misunderstanding and a witch hunt.  Finally, there is tragedy and resolution.

Captain Shelby has something for just about everyone.  There is romance between people, as well as between people and the sea.  There is adventure.  There are thrills and chills. And there is the sea, vast and eternal, unable to be fully known or understood.  But while reading may not be the most active of pursuits, our imaginations can stretch to fill the greatest voids.  And we learn something new.



Jesse Giles Christiansen is an American author who writes compelling literary fiction that weaves the real with the surreal. He attended Florida State University where he received his B.A. in English literature. He is the author of the novel, Pelican Bay which has been an international list bestseller on Amazon, outselling Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway. One of his literary goals is to write at least fifty novels, and he reminds himself always of something that Ray Bradbury once said: "You fail only if you stop writing."



I've heard about author mission statements, but I've never seen one on a website before.  Why are they important?

For me, the mission statement is a pillar to which to hang on. Truth be told, the literary business was not the way I thought it would be. Of course, I’m often told that I live in a world of my own. In my world, authors help and encourage each other, great work makes it to the moon via the rockets of merit. But in reality … Anyway, I wanted to have a pillar, a reminder, so that I would never be one of those trees that sways with every strong breeze … but an oak—in who I am, who I want to be in this business. Here’s my mission statement:

So, do you have a thing for the sea?

Oh, you noticed? LOL. Often I think that it’s primarily because I was raised near the beach (a quintessential “Miami Beach Boy”). But I also think that we are all drawn to the sea. The mystery of it, the biological necessity of metal to magnet, the poetry of it, the feel, and its untapped vastness. Every novel I’ve written so far has it as a theme (my Christmas novel, GOTH TOWN, releasing Nov. 6th, even has mention of the sea). Hmm … I do long to write a novel about the human condition and not have the sea as a theme. Wish me luck! 

How did this turn from a short story into a trilogy?

Love your questions! The novel that started this whole thing, PELICAN BAY, was a little old short story called RIGHT CROOKED (dog-eared versions may still be found somewhere, e.g, on my shelf). The first literary agent who took major interest required that I expand the story to 75,000 words before she would sign with me. Frankly, I was quite flattered that someone loved the story that much. I think I knew back then that the novel would get me published one day. To answer your question, the main character in these novels, Captain Shelby, just kept screaming at me for room to grow. And if I’ve learned anything as a writer so far, when a character screams. You listen. 

I hear you want to write 50 books.  What else is on your bookish bucket list?

Thanks for asking! Next year (maybe sooner; during Christmas break?!), I’ll be starting the final book in the CAPTAIN SHELBY TRILOGY, focusing on Ethan Hodges as an old man and his reckoning with a catastrophic world (I can’t say anymore right now). Also, I’ll be finishing my historical thriller based on the sinking of the RMS Titanic. I get to go to London early next year to complete my research for the book—very exciting! After that I really want to write a book about all my ex-girlfriends—they’re going to make amazing characters!

If you could invite any writer from history to go sailing with you, whom would you pick, where would you go, and what would you say?

Another amazing question! Jack London. Well, not to be boringly practical, but I just think he’d make a great sailor. I think we’d head for the Bering Sea, making some stops at Alaskan ports. I would really want to talk to him about his novel, MARTIN EDEN. Such a splendid book, which is believed by many literary analysts to be a semi-autobiography—but how semi? That is the question! From London I’ve learned the importance of injecting real experience and truth into one’s writing. He also introduced me to the Dirty Secret of the Cosmos—which is “the only thing we know is that we don’t know.” But Socrates knew this, of course. London was just my messenger. Just imagining the conversation we’d have on our sailing trip makes me dizzy (watch now, I’ll have a strange dream about this tonight). 

Tell us about your music?

I’ve been writing songs long before I wrote stories, and I think this lyrical-ness plays a major role in my novels (so I’ve been told). With so many literary artists out there, I believe I can help the crème rise to the surface (yes, I believe in my books; you kind of have to, right?) by leveling my music with my books. I try to write a song for every book. (You can visit my music at: Of course, I also write songs for many different themes. Music is such a nice departure from the computer screen! Recently, I wrote a song entitled “September,” because my fiancée reminded me that I hadn’t written a song for her in a while. The song turned into more than just a love song, though. You can hear it at:

What is the hardest part of writing?

Keeping all the distractions, the branches and twigs and pollution out of that beautiful river that always rushes from the soul. I believe the River of the Muse is always there waiting for us like the best friend of a dear hometown; it’s just up to us to clear away the debris so that it can flow fully. An experienced writer learns to notice the difference between a flowing river and a clogged one. I’ll just stop and try again tomorrow if I’m writing crap. 

What is the most enjoyable part of writing?

When the river is flowing! The gender of the author is moot; we all deliver babies. When the river’s flowing right from one’s soul to his electronic white paper, the feeling is irreplaceable. I feel like a demi-god. 

What advice do you have for young (school-age) writers and readers?

Don’t listen to your teachers’ evaluations of your writing too closely! They can really dam a child’s river to the point where it may never flow again. I received “C’s” for my short stories in college. One of them, which was converted into a novel (PELICAN BAY) is about to pass 2,000 units sold in just over a year. Teachers have a formula to follow; but to be a successful writer, you have to throw that formula out the window. 

I hope you’ll give CAPTAIN SHELBY a chance. It’s a great mixture of magic, adventure, and history, and will also satiate one’s literary appetite, I think. The novel stands alone, but is deeply connected to PELICAN BAY (Captain Shelby’s the old, mysterious fisherman from Pelican Bay, South Carolina, USA); so I hope you’ll consider exploring the first novel as well if you like the character Captain Shelby. Since you asked about my music, here’s the trailer for CAPTAIN SHELBY in which I sing a cappella: I know, a little crazy right? Hey, whatever might help me find new readers. 

Thanks for having me! Again, great questions!

See you in the Land Between the Lines,

Jesse Giles Christiansen. 


(Disclosure:  I received an ecopy of "Captain Shelby" from the author and publisher via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.  Click on the logo above to see the rest of the tour!)


  1. Romance, adventure, thrills, chills... Captain Shelby is my kind of book :D Jesse's views on writing are so true and inspiring. Thanks for sharing, LuAnn :)

    1. Thanks for visiting and commenting, Shilpa! I love the ocean, but don't get too much of that in Kentucky. :/

  2. This book is new to me but it sounds like a great adventure! A book doesn't need to be all action all the time for it to be a completely fulfilling read - at least for me!

  3. Very nice blog...I visited before, but haven't been back lately.

    Going to make sure I am an e-mail subscriber. I enjoy your reviews, and you have books in the genre that I enjoy.